ALM Match Report: Melbourne Victory 2-1 Western United

Western United A-League Men

Western United suffered a gut-wrenching 2-1 defeat against Melbourne Victory in the Isuzu UTE A-League Men on Tuesday night.

One of the Club’s youngest ever starting XI’s in the men’s competition fought tooth and nail for everything from start to finish and Daniel Penha’s 60th-minute goal looked like it might earn the team an incredibly triumph.

But cruelty followed in the fifth and eighth minutes of injury time as Victory defender Damien Da Silva scored two goals to give the home team the win.

Western United Team News

Tomoki Imai led the team out in his 100th Isuzu UTE A-League Men appearance, becoming only the second player to reach the century mark for the Club.

He was the senior figure in a young defence which featured debutant Khoder Kaddour on its left side, while Kane Vidmar partnered Imai in the middle with James Donachie suspended.

Sebastian Pasquali was rested having played a large number of minutes since returning from injury, with 18-year-old James York returning to the bench.

First Half

Melbourne Victory looked to get on top early, bringing the intensity in the opening stages of the game and dominating the ball.

That made it hard for United to find any real comfort in possession but Tom Heward-Belle’s goal stayed largely untroubled despite a couple of moments of panic.

Victory threatened from set pieces and United had a couple of close shaves but managed to clear the danger in the final moment.

One wide free-kick very nearly provided the opener for Victory as Jake Brimmer’s delivery rebounded into the net off Kane Vidmar, but the offside flag went up against Damien Da Silva.

Western United began to settle into the game with its young defence finding its feet and Angus Thurgate and Steven Lustica finding more of the ball in midfield.

Daniel Penha and Lachie Wales started to get more involved in the wide areas and John Aloisi’s side put together some nice passages of play.

One such move saw Thurgate jink inside from the left and draw an athletic save from Paul Izzo, and Thurgate was on hand to head home at the back post from the resultant corner. The referee quickly blew his whistle to award a foul, though, as Michael Ruhs was impeding Izzo on his line.

Angus Thurgate thought he had given Western United the lead

United had a big shout for a penalty minutes later with Thurgate again the architect behind the play.

Finding the ball in the inside-right channel, Thurgate sent a cross into the box but it was blocked at point-blank range by Roderick Miranda. The VAR inspected the play for a possible handball, but the inspection found nothing and a corner was awarded.

That was where the action finished in the first half as both sides went into the break with work to do to break the deadlock in the second period.

Second Half

Western United brought the early tempo in the second half and Penha was behind everything positive for the Green and Black.

The Brazilian sent Noah Botic through on goal but Izzo did well to stop Botic from getting around him and blocked the effort out for a corner.

The same combination was on show moments after as Penha sent Botic through again. This time the youngster succeeded in rounding Izzo and slotting into the net, but the offside flag was up again to halt celebrations.

Penha then took it upon himself just before the hour mark, though much of the credit had to go to Ruhs for a tenacious run down the left wing to create the chance.

After his initial pass was blocked, Ruhs fired a ball into Penha the edge of the area and the Brazilian did the rest, killing the ball with his first touch and slamming it into the bottom corner with his second.

Penha’s night ended there in unfortunate circumstances, though, as he hurt himself during the goal celebration and was promptly replaced by Matthew Grimaldi.

Western United continued to fight and grind through the match and Victory slowly turned up the heat heading into the final 25 minutes.

Heward-Belle made an excellent stop to keep out a near-post header from Miranda and Victory remained on the front foot.

Bruno Fornaroli had a header that flashed wide of the right-hand post and Daniel Arzani sent a ball beyond the left upright as United was pushed deeper and deeper in defence.

The young United side fought courageously and admirably until the final second, but Victory’s experience ultimately told as Da Silva scored twice deep into stoppage time to break United hearts.